I’ve been stayin in Echo Park, Los Angeles for a few days with Zoe Crying Tree Logan, an amazing photographer who has a Prickly Pear Cactus growing outside of his house. The Cactus Figs were in their prime ripeness, so we picked a few to eat (leaving the ones that Wolf Spiders had made their homes around). Cactus Figs taste like a combination of a papaya and a watermelon – two of my favorite fruits. They are dangerous, though, so be warned. Small needle-sharp hairs protrude from knots on the skin and lodge themselves in your fingers, clothes, and even lips – as Ana found out when she tried to scrape the remaining fruit out with her teeth!
If you have cactus figs growing near you, be careful picking them, and do what the Native Americans did – roll them in some sand to get the prickers out!
Cactus Figs have anti-inflammatory properties (great to eat for a hangover!). The gel-like sap of prickly pears can be used as hair conditioner. In Mexico and the Southwest, its pulp and juice have been used to treat a numerous amount of maladies such as wounds and inflammations of the digestive and urinary tracts.
Here are some recipes using Cactus Figs:
*Prickly Pear Lemonade
Simply puree the pulp of three cactus figs, strain the seeds and add to lemonade for a zesty beverage or margarita base.
*Prickly Pear Vinaigrette
- 3 cactus figs (remove pulp)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ground pepper to taste
1. Extract the pulp with a knife or spoon.
2. Strain the pulp through a fine collander, until extracting as much juice as you can.
3. In a bowl, place the rest of the ingredients together and stir while adding the cactus fig juice.
4. Add to your favorite salad
- 1 cactus fig (pulp)
- 1 cup Almond Milk
- 1 tablespoon Agave Nectar
- 4 ice cubes
- 1 shot of Spiced Rum
1. Put ingredients in the blender and mix on high speed for a smooth, tasty drink.
2. Add more cactus fig, almond milk and agave for a larger serving.
3. Strain seeds before pouring (if desired). Adults may enjoy a shot of rum or other liquor in this one!